Imagine you are in charge of a design hotel and fine restaurant high up in the Swiss Alps, overlooking St Moritz and the Engadin lakes, and your job is to operate it as sustainable as possible – keeping energy consumption low (while ensuring high guest satisfaction) and minimizing food waste. How would you do it?
Anne-Pierre Ackermann is the manager of the Muottas Muragl Romantik Hotel, which we visited for a weekend in autumn 2019, as part of SLP on TOUR, supported by Switzerland’s cultural heritage and sustainable transport champions, Rhaetian Railways.
In this interview, she shares her experience of dealing with sustainability challenges in day-to-day hotel operations and illustrates how Muottas Muragl has become a pioneer in energy conservation.
Anne-Pierre, as host and director of the award-winning Muottas Muragl Romantik Hotel near St Moritz in Switzerland, you are in charge of a unique alpine property with a century-long history. When did you discover your passion for the mountains?
I grew up in the Engadin, therefore I have always been connected to the mountains and tourism, it has always been part of my life. Tourism and hospitality are fascinating; guests are travelling, discovering a beautiful area and experiencing new adventures. It is exciting to be part of these moments, share them with the guests and try to improve their experience with great service.
Muottas Muragl is just an amazing place. Although we have to go up and down every day, it is still very inspiring, and you can never get enough of this view!
Why this focus on smart energy use and responsible hotel practices at Muottas Muragl?
Muottas Muragl, with its unique views and the famous hotel, is a major attraction of the Engadin Valley. When it was time to renovate the hotel a few years ago, it was clear for the owners that the solution had to be aiming for the standard of the future, meaning an energy-efficient building operating only on renewable solar energy and offering the best facilities.
A few years ago few people would have believed that you could renovate an alpine hotel functioning only on solar energy and still offering modern facilities and the best comfort.
We think this represents one of the main attractions of this unique location in the Engadin valley.
Which certifications or business tools are helping you to manage and communicate your sustainability commitment?
We communicate our sustainability initiatives through our website, offer guided tours through the hotel and the technical rooms where the energy management happens, and have various information panels in and around the hotel.
How important are such awards for a hotel?
Awards are important for hotels. Especially when they represent achievements showing the future of the touristic infrastructure, awards become important attractions and assets. But feedback of happy and satisfied guests is always the best!
Which would you consider the main challenges for Muottas Muragl, in terms of operating sustainably?
The main challenges are the sustainability of consumables, such as food waste and water consumption. It is important to always stay up to date and even be a pioneer, ready to innovate where possible.
As you said, in addition to energy (in)dependence, food waste is a topic which receives increasing interest. To your mind, how can hotels in alpine regions be smart about reducing food waste?
We try to buy as much local produce as we can and work with our local suppliers. We need to control our food costs, only buy and cook as much as needed, to have as little waste as possible. We need to work with other players, do purchases in cooperation, exchange knowledge etc.
We just implemented a new tool to control food cost and food waste.
With Muottas Muragl you renovated an existing building, following strict environmental standards. How did you do this?
We worked together with professionals who know their business, as well as locals who coached and advised us.
Which trends or industry-wide developments do you witness at the moment, which might support or hinder more sustainable tourism in Switzerland and the wider Alpine region?
To support a more sustainable tourism, the tourism industry will have to offer more sustainable packages and products and work even closer with locals and close surrounding areas.
It will also be important to stay up to date with digitalization and to invest in 360 communication: everybody involved in the operations of the hotel – including management, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders – has to be aware of the topic of sustainability and live up to it.
Which plans do you have for the future?
The Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl belongs to the Engadin St. Moritz Mountains AG, which operates various hotels, restaurants and the mountain railway infrastructure of Corviglia and Muottas Muragl. Improving the sustainability of all those assets is a key objective for us.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Come back and visit us again!
Thank you, Anne-Pierre.
Our interview with Anne-Pierre Ackermann of the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl is part of our special series of interviews and portraits with Swiss champions in sustainable tourism. Find out here which other sustainability change-makers and innovators in Switzerland we have already visited and featured!